Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One more meme

I just realized I've been tagged by LK at The Literate Kitten for another meme. So here goes.

5 things I was doing 10 years ago
1. Finishing up my first semester of graduate school and seriously questioning what made me decide to pursue a graduate degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
2. Dating my husband who I had just met
3. Cursing the professor I was assigned to for my teaching assistantship. I should have known things were going to be bad when the more seasoned graduate students in the program referred to him as "the troll in the basement office." He wasn't a bad man, just very set in his ways and rather moody...and hard of hearing and VERY resistant to wearing his hearing aids. A normal conversation usually consisted of me screaming at him and him saying "What was that dear?" By the end of that semester I thought I would go out of my mind.
4. Holing up in my apartment and reading Cook & Campbell articles printed at a reduced size on the photocopier at the library because I didn't have enough money on my copy card to print all of the articles I had to read for class in a normal font size. To this day I am convinced that is what ruined my once perfect vision.
5. See number 1. I did indeed finish the program, got my MS degree, worked in the field for 2 years, then made a career change and went back to school for another graduate degree in a field that I love - library and information science!

5 things on my to-do list today
1. Check out the used bookstore I happened to notice when out on my lunch hour the other day
2. Return some library books
3. Check on my friend's cats on the way home from work since she is away for the week
4. Make oreo truffles when I get home for my husband and I to bring into each of our offices tomorrow
5. Get some work done on those homemade holiday gifts I committed to this year

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire
1. Sell my house and buy a different house - preferably a completely renovated antique farmhouse set on a nice big plot of land. Or a fabulous condo in Boston or New York.
2. Travel, travel, travel
3. Pay off my student loans and mortgage
4. Quit my job and open up a bookstore
5. Buy a whole new wardrobe and then of course invest any money left over :)

5 things I'll never wear again
1. Tapered jeans
2. Anything tie-dyed
3. Doc Martens
4. Oversized flannel button downs (when I think back to my college wardrobe, I cringe)
5. Anything acid-washed

5 favorite toys
1. Puzzles
2. Lincoln logs
3. My bike
4. Clue
5. Do Nancy Drew books count?

I'm hoping to take a vacation day Friday - I'll have lots more to post then on books I've read and movies I've seen recently. Until then...I tag the following people for this meme. And if they've already done this meme - I apologize, I am a little behind on my blog reading!

Susan at On An Even Keel
Nutmeg at Another Nutter
Heather at The Library Ladder
CoversGirl at Between the Covers
Camille at Dabbling Dilettante

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Library Meme

It's the day before Thanksgiving and while I should be busy baking pies to bring to the in-laws tomorrow, I am home from work sitting on my butt cursing my knack for getting sick right before or on major holidays. Last year it was Christmas, this year it's Thanksgiving. ARGH!!!

Barefoot: A Novel
But being home sick from work does let me catch up on my blogging, reading, and watching DVR'd epsiodes of The Barefoot Contessa. So there is a silver lining :) All morning I have been reading Barefoot by Elin Hildebrand. I'm about a 100 pages in and it is exactly what I need today. A good story, one that doesn't require a lot of thought from my congested head. It takes place on Nantucket too - a place that I love. I think I would read more of Hildebrand's stuff - I bet they would make good beach reads.

I saw this meme at A Guy's Moleskine Notebook and thought I'd play. I don't do many meme's, but I really liked this one. I won't tag anyone, but leave me a comment if you decide to post one so I can go read!

1. Do you remember learning to read? How old were you?
I don't remember specifically when I learned to read, I just remember being really young. Both of my parents read to me as a child and I certainly had my favorite bedtime books. One of which was I Am a Bunny by Richard Scarry. I liked to read this EVERY night. It was about a bunny named Nicholas (and we also actually had a pet rabbit named Nicholas which seemed to make this book even more special to me - although now I can't remember if our rabbit was named after the bunny in the book, or if we bought the book because the bunny's name was Nicholas) and I still remember almost all of the words -"...I chase the butterflies, and the butterflies chase me..."

2. What do you find most challenging to read?
Science Fiction. I had to read a lot of it for a speculative literature class I took in grad school and I really struggled with it. It's always been a genre I've never been able to warm up to and I've tried numerous times. I just don't get it half the time I think.

3. What are your library habits?
I am there all of the time. I live in a pretty decent sized town and the librarians know me. I am always taking out way too many books and have always found the library to be a very comforting place. I was very shy as a kid and the library was an escape for me - I could spend hours there surrounded by all of those books! There was always something there that caught my interest. You know it's funny, when I first moved to this town, I somehow got invited to one of those home shopping parties that I decided to go to in the hopes of meeting some people. And the whole time I was there, not a single person talked to me unless I asked them a question first and then it was only to talk completely about themselves before turning back to the friend they had come with. I remember slipping out of the party, completely unnoticed I am sure, feeling like crap and thinking there was something wrong with me to have been treated as a total outcast (looking back now I realize I had walked into a party of very cliquey women who probably wouldn't have taken the time to welcome ANYONE new). I stopped at the library on the way home from the party and instantly felt better. The quietness and solitude of the stacks was exactly what I needed after standing in a room full of people talking with one another and feeling very lonely. So even as an adult, the library still appears to be my refuge!

4. Have your library habits changed since you were younger?
They really haven't changed much although everything is electronic now so there is no more flipping through the card catalogue. And after completing a graduate program in library and information science I feel like there is nothing I can't find when I am there! I am also more aware of the value and services a good library provides it's community.

5. How has blogging changed your reading life?
I've tried more books I wouldn't normally have picked up and I've found an outlet I had been searching for for quite some time. I've finally found a community that enjoys reading as much as I do and I have gotten more involved in book discussions and connecting with other readers. I also started reviewing books which has given me a chance to get some of my own writing out there.

6. How often do you read a book and not review it on your blog? What are your reasons for not blogging about a book?
I read much faster than I blog, so a lot of times by the time I am ready to blog again I have already read a handful of books since the last time I posted. So I try to review the ones that really spoke to me and maybe give a blurb about others here and there.

7. What percentage of your books do you get from new book stores, second hand books stores, the library, online exchange sites, online retailers, other?
I would say there is a 45% - 35% - 20% split between books bought from retail stores (whether they be independent booksellers, used bookstores, or the major chains), library books, and books bought online. I really like to browse so I visit bookstores and libraries a lot. If I feel like I've been spending too much money, I'll try to stick to the library, but I have a hard time walking, or even driving past a bookstore without stopping and going in!

8. What are your pet peeves about the way people treat books?
It drives me nuts when I lend someone a book and it gets returned to me completely mangled. It makes me wonder what their own books look like. It also drives me nuts when I lend a book and it doesn't get returned. Unless I specifically say "Keep the book" you can safely bet I want it back when you are done. I also don't understand people who claim they are too busy to read. I'm a pretty busy person also, and I make time to read every night before I go to bed regardless of what time it is or how busy I was that day. But I know I also have to accept that reading is not a hobby for some people and that's ok (even if I don't understand it :)

9. Do you ever read for pleasure or for work?
Almost always for pleasure. I don't like wasting my reading time on things I "have to read" if I can help it.

10. When you give people books as gifts, how do you decide what to give them?
I like to think I have a pretty good sense of knowing what friends and family members might like to read based on their lives and interests. And of course there are those books I have read myself and loved that I just know another particular person will love. I almost always give books as gifts and I usually try hard to match the book to the person.

And to all of my American readers - Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


32 years old did that happen? I remember waking up on my birthday last year and thinking the same thing - 31 years did that happen? So far though, I've been enjoying my 30's more than my 20's, I feel more settled in my career, I feel more certain of what I want and how I want to lead my life, etc. Here's to hoping that things continue to get better with age :)

Just got back from seeing the movie Gone, Baby, Gone. Not a very uplifting movie, but then again none of Dennis Lehane's books are warm and fuzzy. All in all though, I thought it was a good movie and the theater was empty as everyone was home having their World Series parties and getting ready to watch the game. I did see Elizabeth last week and I really enjoyed that. I am a huge fan of the Philippa Gregory books and I really wanted to see that part of history on screen. My ony complaint was the overuse of imagery and dramatic music, but the costumes were incredible and Cate Blanchett did a fantastic job of protratying the queen.

While catching up on season 2 episodes of House tonight (and keeping an eye on the score of game 4), I'll be knitting away and enjoying those tasty cupcakes pictured above. Then it's off to bed with Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian (finally - this book has been in my TBR pile for 2 whole years!!). I was trying to get through Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult, but eventually gave up. I know I've mentioned this before and have said I've sworn off all of her books after reading The Tenth Circle, but a co-worker convinced me to try Salem Falls saying it would be different. And once again I was sucked in by the book jacket description (I hope who ever writes these book jacket descriptions for Picoult gets paid well) and once again I was disappointed. Ah well, can't love everything I read.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Unintentional blogging break

Well I managed to fall off the face of the blogging earth in recent months. What I intended to be a short hiatus (in an attempt to avoid stumbling across any Harry Potter and Eclipse spoilers) turned into a much longer absence. Still not having read Harry Potter 7 or Eclipse yet, I realized if I waited until I had them both finished it could be a very long time before my re-entry into the blogosphere. In my defense I did complete HP #5 and have #6 at the top of my TBR pile. And Eclipse, well, I enjoyed the first 2 books so much that I keep putting Eclipse aside for when I really want to treat myself. Almost like I don't want to read it too quickly because I don't want it to end too soon. Anyone else do that? Have a book they are dying to read, but for some reason put others before it to prolong the excitement of that book they are so looking forward to? It seems to be a pretty consistent habit of mine.

Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey I am reading Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir now. I have enjoyed the Philippa Gergory books so much that I find myself becoming more and more interested in the history of that time period. Innocent Traitor is equally as excellent as Gregory's books and I look forward to reading more of Weir.

A Thousand Splendid Suns Next on the list is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I'm reading this for a book club I belong to and seeing as I am hosting the next meeting, I need to put time aside this weekend to get some reading done! I haven't read The Kite Runner yet, but have heard very good things about both of these novels.

And of course I have to report on our recent trip out west to Boise, ID and Portland, OR - two great cities. To avoid repeating myself I'll link to my other blog's ramblings about the trip. I will mention here though that I finally made it to Powell's and it was everything I fantasized it would be. Heavenly. Sigh...

Other than that, lots of reading, knitting, and running going on here. We've finally broken past the psychological 5 mile barrier and have worked our way up to 6.5 miles. I never thought I would say this but I am starting to love running. Sometimes I feel like I could run forever (on a good day of course - on those bad days, half a mile feels like a chore). Just the idea that we can run for over an hour at a time feels like a huge accomplishment and the longer distances give us more of an opportunity to explore country roads. Next weekend we are aiming for 7 miles. Who knows - maybe that half-marathon is not as unattainable as I thought ;)

I leave you with a picture of some yummy sno-cones we enjoyed while visiting Portland's fabulous Rose Test Garden. Perfect way to end the summer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Beautiful Maine

For those of you that read my other blog, skip've already heard enough about my recent trip to Maine :)

We've returned home from a recent trip to Maine and I thought I'd share some pictures of the state we love so much. We stayed in Boothbay Harbor again at our all time favorite inn - The Topside Inn where we had fabulous breakfasts consisting of homemade gingerbread waffles, vegetable frittatas, homemade granola and yogurt, various baked goods, fruit salads, etc. - absolute heaven. In the evenings we dined at the tasty Lobster Dock and enjoyed steamers, corn on the cob, buttermilk biscuits, and Coronas while sitting on the deck overlooking the harbor.

Side trips included a jaunt to Wiscasset where we had an amazing lobster roll (on a toasted buttery croissant, yum) and a big, fat slice of blueberry pie at Sarah's Cafe. We also indulged in a Maine whoopie pie (double yum) before browsing some antique shops and picking up some cute souvenirs and books of course.

Next, drove up the coast to Camden, which I think might be my favorite town in America. The library and grounds are amazing and I make a point to stop in everytime I am there. Check out the benches outside of the library and the beautiful flower gardens surrounding the building.

We stopped for lunch at a very authentic Thai restaurant (can't remember the name if it now) - we were so happy to see it was still in business since it had just opened there the previous year. The food was excellent again - I got some wonderful pad thai while my very daring husband tried the "Camden Special"; I don't think he had a stomach lining left after he ate it.

All in all, a great trip despite some dismal weather. We can't wait to go back again next summer or maybe even in the fall.

The Girls: A Novel Reading The Girls by Lori Lansens now and am mesmerized. Sometimes as I am reading this novel it's easy to forget the girls are conjoined twins since it alternates between being narrated by each sister. The sisters are very different from one another and their life experiences have served to shape them into very unique individuals despite experiencing the same things together from birth throughout their entire lives. Definitely one of my favorite summer reads so far.

Monday, July 02, 2007

She's Come Undone

Thank you to everyone for their kind comments in response to my last post. I have since been wearing much more fitted clothing in an attempt to avoid anymore confusion and assumptions. But I must say, those looser, flowy tops are way more comfortable so I don't think I'll ever be able to ban them from my closet completely :)

Thought I'd start this post off with a picture of my newly painted family room and bookshelves. What was once faux wood paneling is now an airy linen white. It brightens up the room tremendously and I love how all of the book bindings look against the white shelves. The books get to be the focal point of the room!

The book I finished most recently was She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. I read this when it first came out and loved it and reread it again last week for my book club. Although there were some mixed reactions to it from the other bookclub members, a lot of conversation was generated which was nice - the group tends to have a hard time staying on topic. The main character Dolores Price suffers from numerous self-esteem issues which are the product of various events that take place over the course of her childhood and early adulthood. While other characters misinterpret her abrupt, harsh nature as an abrasive personality, the reader gets to see a side of Dolores that others don't and recognize her lashing out as insecurity, uncertainty, and self-loathing. Truly unputdownable in my opinion - a great summertime read if you haven't already experienced it.

I know this has been mentioned in the blogosphere several times already, but if you're not in the know yet you might want to check out LibriVox. LibriVox provides free access to audio versions of those books in the public domain. A great way to catch up on some of the classics. For instance, I enjoy knitting, but find that it takes away from my much valued reading time. This weekend while lounging on the porch and knitting up a baby sweater for a friend's baby I listened to the first few chapters of Little Men by Louisa May Alcott on my laptop. It was rather enjoyable - the only thing I'd warn you about is sometimes the narrators voices are hit or miss. Some narrators tend to be monotone which usually kills the story for me, but there are some good ones so it's worth the listen.

And to all those Americans reading - have a happy 4th!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I experienced a very awkward moment yesterday. On my way home from work, I stopped at my local fabric/yarn shop to pick up a few balls of yarn for a friend so that I could knit her new baby a little sweater. To set the stage, yesterday I was wearing a tunic top (which I have loved until recent events described here) similar to the one pictured below. Not this shirt exactly, but close enough - slightly high waisted, flowy material, and oh so comfortable!

I get up to the register, the woman working rings me out and as she hands me my package, points to my stomach area and asks "So when is the happy day?" My first thought was "What the hell is she talking about?" AND then after I realized what she was referring to, I started stuttering and eventually managed to choke out the words "Oh, I'm not pregnant!" as I frantically tried to smooth the front of my shirt so she could see that the air bubble there was indeed NOT my stomach. We both stood there uncomfortably for a few seconds while she then began stuttering in response "Oh, I'm so sorry - it must have been the shirt..." and both of our faces started turning several shades of red.

In all honesty I think she felt worse than I did because it was so obvious how embarassed she was, so I awkwardly snatched up my package and made my way out the door. I immediately called my husband for reassurance that no I do not look pregnant and no I do not have a huge gut. Then we went out to dinner and I got carded when I ordered my raspberry mojito which slightly offset the earlier trauma of the day. And to be fair to the woman at the store I was buying baby yarn and I do know those tunic type tops have the tendency to billow out sometimes giving the aura of pregnancy, but STILL - WHO THE HELL ASKS THAT unless they are absolutely certain??

Another friend had a similar thing happen to her - only the woman that did it to her actually reached out and felt my friend's stomach when she asked. Another very awkward moment as my friend was not pregnant either. And I also have to say I usually have a pretty accurate body perception of myself and although I am not super skinny, I'm not what you would call overweight either - I try to eat right, I jog a few times a week, all in all I'm pretty healthy. However when I woke up at 6:00 am to go jogging this morning, all I heard in my head over and over again was "So, when is the happy day?" WHY DON'T PEOPLE THINK BEFORE THEY SPEAK? Note to self: Never. wearing. that. shirt. again.

On to book talk...I just finished The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde and thought it was a pretty good read. A quick read told from different points of view of each family member - the abortionist doctor herself, her husband, her daughter, and the detective investigating the case before the killer is finally revealed. Kind of predictable, but still enjoyable.

Now I'm reading A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read. This is a good summer read. It takes place in Syracuse, NY among the working class while a former debutante of NY's wealthy Long Island set investigates a 20 year old double murder that her favorite cousin may have been involved in. I really like Read's characters - there's some grit to them which keeps it interesting.

And of course after going to the library last night with the intention of only returning books and renewing existing ones I had checked out, I came home with 7 new ones. I just can't seem to help myself :)

Next up - The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery, The Dead Father's Club by Matt Haig, and The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer and Susan Dworkin.

And this lovely picture that makes me smile. Wild roses growing in our yard. We have rose bushes we planted ourselves, but I think I like these wild ones even better with their deep color and heavenly fragrance!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rise and Shine

I'm currently sitting at work alternating between drinking mass quantities of hot tea, ginger ale, and water, and putting my head down on my desk every 20 minutes. I woke up this morning with the dreaded summertime cold. I hate having colds or being sick in any way, shape or form, just like everyone else does, but to have a nasty cold during the hot weather of summer seems so unnatural. My throat is on fire and my ears keep popping leaving me fearful of tomorrow morning (when the cold will have spread into my chest and head as they always do) while I chant to myself "I will not be sick, I will not be sick." It's always a tug of war with my conscience as I debate whether or not to throw in the towel, go home early, and take half a sick day, or try to tough it out for the rest of the afternoon. Unfortunately, toughing it out seems to be the plan of action today as I have an afternoon meeting I can't really miss. Not that I will actually be of any use to anyone in that meeting as I sit there in a cold-medicated haze.

Enough complaining. Done.

Rise and Shine: A NovelI'm reading Anna Quindlen's Rise and Shine at the moment and am thoroughly enjoying it. I've taken this one out of the library on three separate occasions only having to return it before I actually got a chance to read it. I'm glad I've finally managed to crack it open. So far, it's the story of 2 sisters living very different lives in NYC while keeping a very close sisterly bond intact. The unexpected happens when the older sister (Meghan) essentially snaps while on air hosting the nation's most popular morning news show. Compounded with Meghan's husband of 22 years leaving her, it's Bridget's (the younger sister) turn to take on the big sisterly role as she tries to keep the family together. I've never read anything else by Anna Quindlen, but am finding that I really like her writing style. Anyone recommend any of her other novels in particular that I should read next?

Need to go pop another zinc lozenge and drink the third gallon (exaggerating here) of water for the day before my meeting. So miserable, so miserable. I needed to get that last complaint in before I signed off ;)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

My first meme

I've been tagged by I Buy Books for the 8 random things meme. I've never participated in a meme before and after catching up on my blog reading I think I may be among the last few in the blogosphere to list my 8 random facts/habits. So I won't tag anyone else since most have been tagged already. But here goes:

1. I am 31 years old and have never had a cavity (something I am very proud of :)

2. I think I am one of the few people on the planet that cannot stand watching any of the Star Wars movies. Much to my husband's dismay, I despise them. Not a big fan of Lord of the Rings either.

3. I am literally allergic to exercise. Seriously. Everytime I work out I break out in itchy hives. This has been a rather recent development. To get around this annoying issue I take Claritin or Zyrtec before I go jogging. Which doesn't always work, but I guess it's better than nothing. I'm hoping the hives will one day disappear as mysteriously as they came.

4. I am three inches taller than my husband, therefore it's pretty rare for me to ever wear heels. Flip flops are my footwear of choice. I should probably just get over it, own up to my height of 5'9", and wear heels with pride. There are some benefits to being tall I in particular is it takes more time for unwanted pounds to show up on a taller frame because there is more area to spread it over! Regardless, I feel like I am always trying to lose 10 pounds. Sigh...

5. I've never read Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice (both are on my TBR list for this summer).

6. I am a packrat and surround myself with clutter. Not matter how hard I try, I just do not have the knack for organization and simplification.

7. My favorite place in the world is Hawaii. Someday I will get back there.

8. I am one of those people that must get at least 8 hours of sleep a night in order to be productive and not cranky...I'm 10 minutes late for work every morning because I've hit the snooze button one too many times.

Speaking of sleep, I am headed upstairs to bed. We spent the entire weekend painting our family room. We painted over hideous faux wood paneling which required 2 coats of primer and then 2 coats of paint. Not to mention the built in bookcases we had to paint around. I am wiped. But the room no longer feels like a dungeon!

Before I sign off - has anyone read Black Girl, White Girl by Joyce Carol Oates? I just finished it - great book.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I'm back

I know I have been MIA for the past month, recent weeks have been crazy busy, although most weeks seem crazy busy. I definitely think I need to scale back my activities before I run myself ragged. I feel like I haven't had much time to do any significant reading lately and that's never a good thing. I look forward to lazy summer evenings lounging on my porch with a good book and the crickets chirping (or whatever it is that they do) in the background. Those days cannot get here fast enough. In any case, I recently discovered Bloglines and have been reading what everyone's been up to - you've all been very busy!

Lately, I've had a minor obsession with buying knitting books. Just today I found three more I want. I need to slow down with the purchasing because I can't knit as fast as I am buying the books! It's all the beautiful pictures that entice me into thinking "Yeah, I can do that..." and while maybe I can, most of the patterns I am drawn to would take me forever. But does that stop me from buying the books? Nooo, of course not. This time though I am going to be smart and take these three out of the library and determine realistically just how many of the patterns I would knit before I invest the money. In no particular order, here they are.
Cables Untangled: An Exploration of Cable Knitting

Knitting Lingerie Style: More Than 30 Basic and Lingerie-Inspired Designs

Handknit Holidays: Knitting Year-Round for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice

Sigh...I want. But I don't need.

I did manage to score some great finds at a library book sale the other weekend. I picked up several hardcover craft books for $2 a piece.

But the best find of the day was Michael Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White. This is one that's been talked about a lot in the blogosphere; I was so happy to see it laying on the table I let out a little shriek when I spotted it. I'm glad to own this one as it is a rather hefty book; I know I can take my time with it and not have to worry about getting it back to the library.
The Book of Air and ShadowsWhich is exactly what happened to me with Michael Gruber's The Book of Air and Shadows. I got about 225 pages in and was way overdue my 2 allowed renewals so I had to give in and bring it back. I marked down my page number though and have already requested it again.

Other books I have out of the library include The Post-Birthday World, The Teahouse Fire, and Rise and Shine. I've got my reading cut out for me!

And from this point forward I vow to be less sporadic with my posts. With summer coming and the promise of extra reading time, I am sure I will have lots to post about. One more thing...Picnik is my new favorite tool - it's a very fun photo editor and is completely free.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Getting my head above water again

After a very busy two and a half weeks, I feel like I am finally getting my head above water again. Work has been positively insane and since so much of my job involves programming the last thing I want to do when I get home is sit in front of a computer again. Which has caused me to feel very out of the loop; I'm glad I'm getting the chance now to catch up on all of my blog reading!

I finished Moloka'i about 2 weeks ago and can say it was probably one of the best books I have ever read. The novel follows a young girl diagnosed with leprosy at the age of seven. After she is shipped off to Moloka'i with other people also afflicted with the disease, the reader witnesses Rachel and other members of the leper colony create a sense of community in a place where they have been sent as a means to isolate them from the general population. Some of the residents at Moloka'i have more visible signs of the disease than others, but none of that matters. The community members create beautiful lives for themselves in the midst of severe hardship and incredibly bad luck. Really, just an amazing book.

A Spot of Bother
Right now, I am almost done with Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother and am loving this one too. I enjoyed his previous novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, but I think I am enjoying A Spot of Bother more. The novel centers around George, the patriarch of a modern day dysfunctional family. In the midst of his daughter planning her wedding to a man they all think is wrong for her, his gay son is experiencing yet another failed relationship, his wife is having an affair with his old co-worker, and George finds a raised bump on his hip that he begins obsessing about, fearful that it may be cancer. I feel like I know these people; regardless of the issues they have with one another, all are quite likeable characters and I find myself rooting for each of them.

All of my fiction reading has been from the library lately so I've been pretty good about not spending money on that, although I can't say the same for craft books. But I figure craft books are books that are better to own since they contain such good reference material. Here's a snapshot of my recent acquisitions from the past few weeks.

And for those of you that like to bake, be sure to try out this recipe from The Canadian Baker. I made these almond-ricotta Napolean pastries for breakfast one weekend and they were super easy and delicious. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Adorable bookplates

I came across the Pink Loves Brown site today and had to pass it on. I love the idea of bookplates, but have never puchased them for myself. I've given them as gifts before, although sometimes my less bookish friends look at them not really understanding what they are until I explain it to them. And then there is always a look of understanding and a "Hey, that's a great idea!" that follows the explanation. I think most people just write their names on the inside of the book cover and then don't think about it again. But these deserve a second look. I can't wait to buy my own set. Ex Libris - if you're reading, these are especially for you!
Right now I'm reading Vienna Prelude by Bodie Thoene mentioned in an earlier post. It's the first in a series that I have read twice before and I am loving every minute of it. Alternating between Berlin, Vienna, and Prague during WWII, it's a mesmerizing read. I was happy to stumble across the books again at my local library.

I've also started Alan Brennert's Moloka'i and found myself sucked in after the first chapter. I can't wait to get some more of it read tonight. I really do need to update the "What's On My Nightstand" links to the right of my blog posts. Most of those have already come and gone!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Unsatisfying reading

I seem to have hit a bit of a reading slump lately. I tried to read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for my book club and haven't been able to finish it. I read the first section titled "Italy" and enjoyed it, but did not enjoy the second section titled "India" as much. I found myself starting to lose interest and I can't decide if I want to read the final section titled "Indonesia" or just give up entirely. I've also had to abandon A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka; not because I didn't like it, but because it's way overdue at the library. I always get an uncomfortable, unsettled feeling when I have to abandon a book about halfway through even if the book is horrible - there's no sense of closure.

Cracks in My Foundation: Bags, Trips, Make-up Tips, Charity, Glory, and the Darker Side of the Story: Essays and Stories by Marian KeyesAfter my last two unsuccessful reads, I decided to try Marian Keyes' Cracks in my Foundation; a collection of essays and stories. This is exactly what I needed; quick, easy read, entertaining, etc.; feel like I am back on the path to good reading.

Lisey's Story
Up for this weekend are some party preparations for a baby shower I am hosting next weekend and of course more reading. Thinking I may try Stephen King's Lisey's Story next.

I also want to try a couple of recipes. Domino magazine had some tasty ideas in their February 2007 issue (although this is the March 2007 issue pictured) for a zesty lemon tagliarini and candied orange peels dipped in Belgian chocolate. Sounds yummy!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

More winter reads

At the advice of Stephanie (The Written Word and Me So Crafty) and Heather (The Library Ladder and Orange Blossom Goddess), I've gone ahead and started a craft blog. I'm trying wordpress this time around and have been satisfied so far - maybe I'll eventually move this one over to wordpress also. Hopefully, keeping up with two blogs will not prove to be too much for me.

The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)Right now I'm reading Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. A great spooky read - I enjoy the stream of consciousness Eleanor seems to think in and how the characters interact with one another. Their banter keeps things light as the reader waits to understand why they were all brought to Hill House.

I also picked up a copy of A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka. I'm only about one chapter in but hope to get a lot more read tonight as this one is a library book and already overdue!

First ImpressionsRecently I finished Nora Roberts' First Impressions, which was the short novel she had come out with around Christmas time. I'd never read anything by her before, the only reason I picked this one off of the library shelf was that a friend kept suggesting her books to me, not realizing that I typically avoided the romance genre. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It was the romantic fluff I had anticipated, but at the time fluff was what I needed and I think I read the book in one sitting. I'm putting Nora Roberts on my list of "my head hurts, I don't want to think about anything, need a quick, entertaining read" list of authors. I don't know that I could read her books on a regular basis but every now and then I think I'll find them enjoyable. I haven't tried her J.D. Robb series yet, not sure how those are.

I finally finished Inkheart - which was fantastic!

And last but not least, I am meeting a friend for high tea at the Concord Colonial Inn this weekend, where we are sure to be surrounded by the ghosts of so many literary greats!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snowed In

I'm sitting on my couch right now listening to the sleet hit against the side of the house. After waking up to a very messy storm, I decided to work from home today. I always like the idea of being able to work from home - getting to wear sweats, fewer office distractions, no meetings, etc. - but when I actually do work from home I find myself easily distracted, very bored from lack of interaction with co-workers, and a tad unprofessional as I return emails in my slippers and undone hair shoved into a sloppy ponytail. I guess there is just something about the office environment that makes me feel more productive. I worked through the morning, but then felt my motivation start to wane after lunch. Seemed like a good time to create a new blog post and catch up on some blog reading.

Since I last posted, I have been back to the New England Mobile Book Fair again. I just can't get enough. Although this time I did go with a purpose in mind. Lately, I have been inspired by various craft blogs I read occasionally, and decided it was time to break out my mother's old sewing machine and put it to good use. I figured what better place to search for sewing books than at the New England Mobile Book Fair, since it's so huge and seems to have everything under the sun.

Amy Butler's In Stitches: More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing ProjectsI picked up a copy of Amy Butler's In Stitches. Her book has a ton of great ideas and several patterns are included, making it easy for those of us just getting back into sewing after a fifteen year hiatus. Her fabrics are gorgeous too; the pretty pictures alone convinced me to buy the book. I managed to complete her bedside organizer project shown here. Made a few mistakes along the way, but all in all not a bad first attempt. The organizer has magazine pockets, an i-pod pocket, cd pocket, pen and pencil pockets, and a pocket for eyeglasses. It attaches to the bed with a long canvas flap placed between the mattress and box spring. Pretty nifty. I'm already envisioing homemade Christmas gifts this year.

Speaking of crafts (hmmm...maybe I should start my own craft blog - for now I guess I'll just have to include my craft posts with my book posts!), I visited Paper Source recently and picked up a paper flower making kit and a Valentine's Day paper fortune cookie kit. The paper flowers were a little more involved than I had anticipated, but still a fun project. The fortune cookies were easier, although I didn't have the required hole puncher, so I had to improvise with some tape.

More random information includes the eggless chocolate chip walnut banana bread I made. The only reason I went for eggless is that we had no eggs in the fridge and I was not about to make any attempts to actually drive to a store in this weather. Apple sauce was the substitute and the bread came out very yummy. I would definitely use this recipe again.

Enough craft and baking talk, now back to books. Right now I'm reading Cornelia Funke's Inkheart, which is absolutely perfect for this kind of weather. I became immersed as soon as I started reading it. Meggie and her father Mo are both bibliophile's and Mo has a unique ability to bring stories to life as he reads them aloud. Meggie and her father soon find themselves held hostage by a group of characters Mo inadvertently brought out of a story. Truly a charming read, I'm looking forward to picking up the sequel once I am done.

This month we're reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for my book club. I've heard good things about this one, but haven't started it yet. Has anyone else read it and care to comment on it?

Ok, must put in another two or three hours of work now before I can officially call it a day. Ugh.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Have I got a bookstore for you

I discovered the best bookstore last weekend. After an uncomfortable three hours of allergy skin testing (hives can be such a drag, can't they?), I decided book buying would be a more soothing experience. I came across the New England Mobile Book Fair on my way home. As soon as I walked in the door, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It reminded me a little bit of the Strand in NYC, but I honestly think this store was better. It was essentially one huge warehouse of books - new and used. And everything was discounted! And they had everything imaginable!!!!

I will say though that you do have to go with the intention of spending a lot of time there. The amount they have is overwhelming and they have their collection (their fiction section at least) organized by publisher rather than author. So if you're looking for something in particular you really have to know where to look or ask one of the shopkeepers (who are super knowledgeable and helpful). The children's and young adult sections were very impressive as well - multiple copies of anything you could be looking for.

Obviously, I was not about to leave this store empty handed. Here is a list of my lovely purchases.

There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's ChildrenThere is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children by Melissa Fay Greene - (Booklist)...The horrific numbers behind the AIDS pandemic in Africa, "the most terrible epidemic in human history," have little resonance for most people in the West: "the ridiculous numbers wash over most of us." But this searing account humanizes the statistics through heartbreaking, intimate stories of what it is like for young orphans left alone in Ethiopia. Greene's story focuses on one rescuer, Haregewoin Teferra, who has opened her home and compound in a rickety hillside neighborhood of Addis Ababa and taken in hundreds of the untouchables thrown in the streets and left at her door...

GraysonGrayson by Lynne Cox - (Publisher's Weekly)...On a clear California morning when Cox (Swimming to Antarctica) was 17 years old, she had an unusual experience that stayed with her for 30 years, creating a spiritual foundation for her personal and professional success. In this slim and crisp memoir, Cox details a morning swim off the coast of California that took an unexpected turn: returning to shore, she discovered that she was being followed by a baby gray whale that had been separated from its mother. As Cox developed a rapport with the whale, she took on the responsibility of keeping it at sea until it was reunited with its mother...

The Book of Lost Things: A NovelThe Book of Lost Things by John Connolly - (Publishers Weekly)...Thriller writer Connolly (Every Dead Thing) turns from criminal fears to primal fears in this enchanting novel about a 12-year-old English boy, David, who is thrust into a realm where eternal stories and fairy tales assume an often gruesome reality...

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die by Peter Ackroyd and Peter Boxall

Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You'll Make Over and Over AgainBarefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten - this one I got for 40% off!

On a completely unrelated note - anyone see Smallville last night? Am I the only one obsessed with that show? Great episode!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday thoughts

Why is it that every time I request multiple books through my library's ILL system, they all come in at once? I can't possibly read everything before they are due back. Oh well - I will try my hardest. Feel like I am in a fog today, so this will be a short post, but wanted to share some of my recent acquisitions and "borrows."

Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in GirlsDuring a trip to Barnes and Noble on my lunch yesterday I picked up Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons (see description from below).

There is little sugar but lots of spice in journalist Rachel Simmons's brave and brilliant book that skewers the stereotype of girls as the kinder, gentler gender. Odd Girl Out begins with the premise that girls are socialized to be sweet with a double bind: they must value friendships; but they must not express the anger that might destroy them. Lacking cultural permission to acknowledge conflict, girls develop what Simmons calls "a hidden culture of silent and indirect aggression."

The author, who visited 30 schools and talked to 300 girls, catalogues chilling and heartbreaking acts of aggression, including the silent treatment, note-passing, glaring, gossiping, ganging up, fashion police, and being nice in private/mean in public. She decodes the vocabulary of these sneak attacks, explaining, for example, three ways to parse the meaning of "I'm fat."

Simmons is a gifted writer who is skilled at describing destructive patterns and prescribing clear-cut strategies for parents, teachers, and girls to resist them. "The heart of resistance is truth telling," advises Simmons. She guides readers to nurture emotional honesty in girls and to discover a language for public discussions of bullying. She offers innovative ideas for changing the dynamics of the classroom, sample dialogues for talking to daughters, and exercises for girls and their friends to explore and resolve messy feelings and conflicts head-on.

One intriguing chapter contrasts truth telling in white middle class, African-American, Latino, and working-class communities. Odd Girl Out is that rare book with the power to touch individual lives and transform the culture that constrains girls--and boys--from speaking the truth.

The Bastard of IstanbulI also picked up The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak (really looking forward to this one). From Booklist:

The new Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk has faced charges for making anti-Turkish remarks regarding the long denied mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Acclaimed Turkish writer Shafak has also been hauled into court for "insulting Turkishness." The case was dropped, and her bold and penetrating tale of the tragic repercussions of the Armenian genocide will live on. In her second novel in English following The Saint of Incipient Insanities (2004), Shafak tells a many-faceted, mischievously witty, and daringly dramatic story that is at once a study in compassion, a shrewd novel of ideas, a love song to Istanbul, and a sensuous and whirling satire. The novel's ruling force is gorgeous Zeliha, the unapologetically sexy proprietor of an Istanbul tattoo parlor. An unwed mother at 19, she has raised her daughter, Asya (now 19 herself and obsessed with Johnny Cash), in a chaotic, food-centric household that includes her mother, grandmother, and three sisters: Banu, the pious clairvoyant; Cevriye, the high-strung history teacher; and Feride, the neurotic. The sisters haven't seen their Americanized brother, Mustafa, for almost 20 years, and are stunned when his 19-year-old stepdaughter, Armanoush, whose mother is from Kentucky and whose father is Armenian, arrives in Istanbul to search for her Armenian roots. As Asya and Armanoush forge a tentative friendship unaware of all that they actually share, others panic over the looming revelation of shocking secrets. Shafak weaves an intricate and vibrant saga of repression and freedom, cultural clashes and convergences, pragmatism and mysticism, and crimes and retribution, subtly revealing just how inextricably entwined we all are, whatever our heritage or beliefs.

My library stack includes Alan Brennert's Moloka'i, A Venetian Affair by Andrea Di Robilant, The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro, and Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes, among others.

And last but not least Vienna Prelude by Bodie Thoene. This was one of those books I read when I was maybe 13 or 14 and loved the story and cover art. Of course as an adult, I couldn't remember the title or the author and have always sort of been searching for it wherever I go. Well, after reading another blogger's post where Vienna Prelude was recommended, I reserved it at the library not realizing this was the book I had been searching for all of these years! Imagine my surprise when it was waiting for me!

I've decided to resign from the From the Stacks Challenge. With time running out and my library pile growing, it's just not going to happen. I don't know why I insist on signing up for these challenges (ok, maybe I do - they always sound like fun) - I never finish them. I admire all those of you that do!

Maybe this wasn't such a short post after all :) I leave you with this:

Tom Cruise hailed as 'Christ' of Scientology

What the ???? All I can do is laugh. He he he HA HA HA HA!